Stream-Riparian Restoration along Colorado’s Front Range
Friday June 29 / 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Field Trip Leader:
Kathleen A. Dwire, USDA Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Research Service, Fort Collins, CO
Water has shaped the American West and nowhere is this more evident than along the Front Range of Colorado. This field trip will highlight stream and riparian restoration projects that are revitalizing rivers in one of the driest and fastest growing metropolitan regions in the nation, and provide insights into the western history that has shaped both the utilization and protection of Colorado’s water.
Our first stop will be Confluence Park, which surrounds the convergence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, where the discovery of gold led to the formation of the city of Denver. Here and downstream along the South Platte Greenway, participants will see how an urban river has been transformed into a recreational and educational treasure, with enhanced riparian and aquatic habitat and closely-monitored water quality.
In the nearby town of Golden, a segment of Clear Creek is being restored by Trout Unlimited and partners to improve fish habitat, particularly spawning beds and wintering pools. Clear Creek, a stream of gold-panning fame, emerges from steep Rocky Mountain foothills, and presents challenges for standard approaches to establishment of riparian vegetation and reconfiguration of channel features.
Near the city of Boulder, we will visit Eldorado Canyon State Park, where the Colorado Division of Wildlife and collaborators have restored nearly 0.5 miles of South Boulder Creek. This project focused on channel reconstruction to improve flows and diversity in channel habitat. Locally renowned for rock climbing, this scenic canyon park features ‘hog-back’ geology and a range of natural communities representing the Front Range transition from ‘peaks to prairies’.
Further downstream on South Boulder Creek, we will observe consequences of water redistribution via stream-diversions, and the associated ditches and reservoirs that have facilitated urbanization and development. These human-created riparian-creekside-ditchside environments have created novel ecological habitats, green space, and recreational opportunities. They have become an integral part of the surface water network and instream flow program (city of Boulder), and ditch restoration has included riparian vegetation management and in-canal modifications for fish passage.
Specialists from the US-EPA (analytical lab specializing in ‘urban water contaminants’), Colorado Division of Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, the US Forest Service, and the City of Boulder will serve as field-trip guides and provide background information for the different projects.
Ticket price for this event will be $27 per person.
Venue: The shared location for this June 25-29 2012 event will be at the Sheraton Denver Downtown in Denver, Colorado, a vibrant city with abundant opportunities for fine dining, shopping, culture, recreation, and sports (yes, the Colorado Rockies will be in town that week). The Denver International Airport is approximately 23 miles from the hotel.